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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 January, 2004, 02:46 GMT
Guantanamo condemned two years on

By Jannat Jalil
BBC correspondent in Washington

Human Rights Watch has denounced the US Government for continuing to hold prisoners without charge at its base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay
Guanatanamo's first detainees arrived two years ago on Sunday

Two years after the detention camp was set up the 660 detainees do not know what their alleged crimes are, the New-York-based group said.

Neither do they know whether they will be ever released or charged, it added.

The Bush administration has declared the detainees to be unlawful enemy combatants in its war on terrorism.

The administration says it can continue to hold them without the international legal rights normally accorded to prisoners under the Geneva Conventions until this war is over.

Human Rights watch accuses the United States of continuing to ignore international law in its treatment of the detainees.

The public still does not know who they are or what they are supposed to have done, it said.

Teenagers

Most of the detainees were captured more than two years ago during the US led war in Afghanistan.

The United States has alleged they are part of the al-Qaeda network.

But Human Rights Watch says some of them are probably just civilians and at least three of the detainees are 15 years old or younger.

It says an undisclosed number who are 16 or 17 years old are being held with adults at the camp.

There has been broad condemnation by international human rights groups, judges and lawyers.

The US Supreme Court has decided to issue a ruling this year on whether American courts have jurisdiction to hear any appeals filed by the detainees - even though they are foreigners who were captured in a foreign land and are being held on foreign soil.


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11 Jan 04  |  Politics


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